An interview with Tom Hardy from the Swedish paper Dagens Nyheter. This time translated by me! I love seeing him get some press in Sweden. Best quote: “My biggest talent is that I’m me.” Trademark Hardy. :D
After Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the Brit Tom Hardy is one of Hollywood’s hottest items. In John Hillcoat’s Lawless he plays a bootlegging … matriarch.
At drama school in London, Tom Hardy and his class mates used to compete about who could imitate Gary Oldman the best. Hardy claims to not be the sort who’s easily impressed and who’s usually star struck. But when he stood face to face with his idol during the filming of Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he was seriously tongue-tied. The scene where the traumatised MI6-puppy Ricki Tarr cries on George Smiley’s sofa had to be reshot several times.
“I’ve stolen everything from Gary Oldman,” Tom Hardy admits.
Furthermore, it was Tom Hardy who made Gary Oldman accept a supporting role as a gangster boss in John Hillcoat’s Lawless. Oldman is well and good, but this time it’s his disciple who steals the show. Tom Hardy is the main draw in an otherwise rather mediocre film based on Matt Bondurant’s novel about his relatives, The Wettest County in the World (2008), a violent tale of a tough family of bootleggers during Prohibition in the American Midwest. Hardy plays the middle brother Forrest Bondurant among three lawless redneck brothers who are trying to survive the depression of the 30’s and a sadistic sheriff (Guy Pearce) in Virginia.
“You could call this a wangster-film, a mix of western and gangster. Lawless is like The Waltons on acid. I myself was brought up watching Vietnam war films like Apocalypse Now and The Platoon, they were my westerns,” Tom Hardy smiled when I met him in Cannes this spring. Hollywoods latest hot item met part of the world press in torn jeans and and a green t-shirt with the text Support Our Troops which can’t hide all the tattoos on his upper arms. And a wild beard for his role as the road warrior Max Rockatansky who’s making a come back in George Miller’s Mad Max 4: Fury Road (2013). Hardy is one of those actors who always manages to transform himself completely for each new character. As the Batman-villain Bane he even manages to carve out a character, in spite of wearing a huge toaster glued to his face. The role of Forrest was also a first class transformation.
“Sure, I’d love to be Clint Eastwood, but I’ll never be like him. I’m from East Sheen, London, and this is the US so right there’s an apparent physical transformation,” Tom Hardy explains and begins a long tirade about how he “hotwired” his character, getting past the director’s instruction.
“They wanted Forrest to be a hard macho guy, but I wanted him to be a woman. Forrest is a matriarch - not a patriarch. Sure, I’ll put on Clint’s cowboy hat and put a cigar in my mouth and the muscles were already there for The Dark Knight Rises. But Forrest is the mother of his brothers, he acts like a tough guy, but he isn’t tough - he’s realised he has to take care of his family and be loving if you want to survive,” Hardy explains.
As opposed to Forrest, Tom Hardy doesn’t want to have anything to do with alcohol or drugs. Anymore. He’s been free from alcohol and drugs for ten years. The only experimentation he does these days is on the job.
“My biggest talent is that I’m me. That I’m there will of course mean that I’ll put something of myself into my character. Everytime I create a new character I’m always looking for the right hook. And everytime I feel the same weird dread before the first day of filming. I’m fidgeting like a worm on a fish hook. I’m freaking out. I’m often overly ambitious, but it mostly ends up with me not working seriously until the cameras are rolling,” says Tom Hardy who’s in a joking frame of mind. When his co-actor Guy Pearce, sitting next to him, says that he chooses work on the basis of “the right combination of script, character and director”, Hardy adds:
“And the number of zeros on the paycheck!”
Asking if playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises has changed his life, Hardy answers:
“Sure! And most of all it will change YOUR life!”
Hardy becomes significantly more serious when he’s asked to comment on working with Tomas Alfredson in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
“There’s no one I’m more enthusiastic about than Tomas Alfredson, he’s one of the most delightful people and artists I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure working with him, or rather working for. I’m hoping to work WITH him one day when I’ve grown up,” Hardy says with a smile. In contrast to many of his Hollywood-colleagues he seems aware of living in a dream-world. Hardy is happy to talk about his charities, for example being an ambassador for Prins Charles’ trust fond for disadvantaged youth and as an activitist in collecting money for disabled soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It’s a cruel world out there, it’s important to remember that Hollywood is just a sheltered world. The worst that can happen is that someone criticises your acting, but no one will shoot your brains out for real.”